Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Working Out Rather Nicely

Life is motoring along and things seem to be coming together rather well, for a change.

Jon has some exciting news: he's been taken on as the medium for a paranormal investigation group and will be going off on two investigations in May. Very much looking forward to hearing all about those :-))

We had a very pleasant Easter; skipped a big Easter dinner this year in favour of an evening of family games and buffet instead. Couldn't miss an Easter egg hunt, though - this year we hid a dozen plastic eggs in the garden, each one containing a cryptic clue to somewhere else in the house, where Emily found some little gifts, mostly books and the inevitable chocolate, lol.

With the arrival of her new bed and mattress, Emily is now finally and firmly ensconced in her "blue room" for real, and the junkheap aka the pink room aka the old bedroom is now a spare room cum parrot training room. Speaking of parrot training, there's been a definite improvement over this last week. Emily and Lulu and either Jon or I are now making a point of spending ten minutes a day in the pink room, where there are no distractions for Lulu and nowhere for her to fly off to out of reach. Using the clicker and bits of custard cream biscuit (!!) as her all time favourite reward, Lulu will now take treats from Emily without puffing up or biting and will tolerate Emily putting her hands near Lulu. In order to help Emily get over her fear (because the bites do *really* hurt), she is temporarily wearing gardening gloves during these ten minute sessions.

It's natural that Emily is wary of putting her hands near Lulu, given her experience so far, but unfortunately of course that has "rewarded" Lulu and reinforced her behaviour - if she lunges at Emily, Emily moves, which is what she wants. So we have to break that cycle by proving to Lulu that no matter whether she lunges or bites, Emily's hands are staying put. I do believe it will only take a couple of weeks of consistency for her to finally figure out that Emily is a senior flock member ;-) and could do with a little respect.

The last couple of days, Lulu has been out of her cage from 8am until 6pm, in a combination of free upstairs, free downstairs and in her huge garden cage. She was worn out yesterday evening and couldn't wait to get back into her "home" to go to sleep, bless her. She does enjoy being out in the garden though and now willingly steps into her big garden cage. She's also enjoying being "showered" with the hosepipe on mist setting. Jon has been working soooo hard in the garden and it shows - we have an amazing selection of vegetables on the go now and the fence and veggie beds have been painted and cleaned up, as has the brick border at the end of the garden, new grass seed is down in the bare bits, flowers are sprouting all over the show - it's a delight :-)

Home education has been going very well recently too. Among other things, over the last ten days, Emily has studied longshore drift in physical geography and has completed lots more work on the second world war, including interviewing my Mum about her experience of life during the Blitz - my Mum lived just outside London, in an area full of munition factories and the like, and much of her area was completely destroyed. She was five when war began and has some very vivid memories to describe and fascinating information about her father's work; he was responsible for finding food, temporary accommodation, clothing etc for those who had been made homeless by the bombing in their area.

Yesterday, Emily started having maths lessons with my Dad, which they both seem to have rather enjoyed. She had another one this morning, and that will be a daily thing for half an hour or so once Autumn arrives and Mum and Dad are around here instead of up at St Bees. She'll also do a couple of hours of physics/technology with Gramps once a week. Yesterday afternoon, we enjoyed working on the earthworm and soil survey - we were sent a pack for this a while ago from Opal. Emily found sixteen earthworms altogether and had great fun measuring and identifying them and classifying our soil; she was bare handed most of the time, but having discovered that some of the worms emitted yucky yellow fluid when handled - very hard to wash off, too! - the gloves came out, lol.

This morning, after maths, Emily and I started on a study of Anne Frank's Diary and the holocaust in general. Emotionally demanding, to put it mildly. This afternoon, we had a debate about the pros and cons of capital punishment, including mock interviews with Emily taking the part of someone on each side of the debate in turn. She then wrote up the arguments in an attempt at a formal essay - I was very impressed with her efforts at that, especially considering it's the first time she's tried to do a full scale essay of that nature. We've also been doing a lot of English mixed in among everything else and we're looking forward to getting stuck into projects from this Letts KS3 Star English book. I've seen a lot, lot, lot of English textbooks over the last few years, but this one is completely different. It's a series of indepth investigations into (for instance) the origins of the English language, with research tasks for children to undertake and report back on; it looks so much more fun than the bog standard, uninspiring workbook route.

We're off to swimming tomorrow, The Deep on Friday with friends, an RAF/WW2 museum next Tuesday and the National Parrot Sanctuary later that week or the beginning of the next one. It's a busy time, but things are falling into place nicely :-))


Barbara said...

Hi Nikki,
It is great you are trying to help your daughter have a relationship with your parrot. I would suggest going ahead and let her remove her hand when an attempt to bite occurs. This actually teaches the parrot that Emily understood her body language and respects it. In fact even the slightest sign of aggressive behavior in my opinion should be respected. This way your parrot can tell someone to "back off" without having to bite. Maybe just a quick pinning of the eyes will do. Next work on teaching your parrot that your daughter will be paired with all sorts of wonderful things like treats, toys and a bath. This gives your parrot reason to look forward to interacting with her. This ties in with your positive reinforcement approach to training : ) And can also be used to train your bird to step up onto your daughter without biting.
Barbara Heidenreich

Sarahs Home said...

I would love to go on a paranoral investigation, How fabulous.. congratulations..
Emily sounds as though she has been busy again. I wish that I had heard of HE before sending my daughter off to school. She has always loved school and it has been othing but a positive thing for her but it would have been nice to have her at home. I am not sure that it would have worked with her brother, he is more stubborn and doesnt want to work on anything at home but wil gladly do it a school... sigh..LOL...

Sarah x